Week 5 Preview: Vikings at Bears - October 9, 2017

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Week 5 Preview: Vikings at Bears – October 9, 2017

Chicago Bears

Running the football with a high level of success has long been synonymous with Chicago Bears football.

Jim McMahon had Walter Payton behind him. Jim Harbaugh was able to turn around and hand it off to Neal Anderson. Even Rex Grossman had Thomas Jones when he was a young, up-and-coming quarterback. The Bears will need the likes of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen to play that type of role if the Bears are going to pull off an upset of the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football, let alone properly develop rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky.

“Never Tell Me The Odds:”

The Chicago Bears (1-3) are 3.5-point home underdogs (with the over/under set at 40) against the Minnesota Vikings (2-2), according to Bovada. Chicago is now 15-21-1 against the spread since the start of 2015.

Minnesota is 2-2 against the spread this year and 15-7 when favored against the line since 2015.

Series History:

Only the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions have played more games against the Bears than the Vikings. The edge in one of the longest running rivalries in the NFL belongs to Minnesota, which is 58-52-2 against Chicago all-time.

Game Time, Broadcast Info, Officiating Crew:

Location: Soldier Field

Broadcast Info: 7:30 p.m., ESPN, WGN-TV (Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters), WBBM-AM 780, WCFS-FM 105.9 (Jeff Joniak, Tom Thayer, Zach Zaidman); Westwood One Radio (Kevin Harlan, Boomer Esiason, Scott Kaplan)

Referee: Jerome Boger

Expected Starters and Lineups:

Bears Offense Expected Starters:

  • QB Mitch Trubisky
  • RB Jordan Howard
  • FB Michael Burton
  • WR Kendall Wright
  • WR Markus Wheaton
  • TE Dion Sims
  • LT Charles Leno Jr.
  • LG Josh Sitton
  • C Cody Whitehair
  • RG Kyle Long
  • RT Bobby Massie

Bears Defense Expected Starters:

  • DE Akiem Hicks
  • NT Eddie Goldman
  • DE Mitch Unrein
  • OLB Pernell McPhee
  • ILB Christian Jones
  • ILB John Timu
  • OLB Leonard Floyd
  • CB Marcus Cooper
  • CB Prince Amukamara
  • FS Eddie Jackson
  • SS Adrian Amos

Bears Specialists: 

  • Connor Barth (kicker), Pat O’Donnell (punter, holder), Andrew DePaola (long snapper), Deonte Thompson (kick returner), Tarik Cohen (punt returner)

Vikings Offense Expected Starters:

  • QB Sam Bradford
  • RB Latavius Murray
  • FB C.J. Ham
  • WR Stefon Diggs
  • WR Adam Thielen
  • TE Kyle Rudolph
  • LT Riley Reiff
  • LG Nick Easton
  • C Pat Elflein
  • RG Joe Berger
  • RT Mike Remmers

Vikings Defense Expected Starters:

  • DE Danielle Hunter
  • NT Linval Joseph
  • DT Tom Johnson
  • DE Everson Griffen
  • OLB Ben Gedeon
  • MLB Eric Kendricks
  • OLB Anthony Barr
  • CB Trae Waynes
  • CB Xavier Rhodes
  • FS Harrison Smith
  • SS Andrew Sendejo

Vikings Specialists:

  • Kai Forbath (kicker), Ryan Quigley (punter), Kevin McDermott (long snapper), Jerick McKinnon (kick returns), Marcus Sherels (punt returns)

Hot or Not and Whom to Watch

Chicago Bears – Offense

It’s safe to assume you’ll have your eyes on Mr. Trubisky, so let’s talk about his targets.

According to Yahoo! Sports, the Vikings have allowed the ninth most fantasy points to tight ends this season. Tight ends are averaging a moderate 4.3 targets and 38.5 receiving yards in those games, but the Vikings have allowed two of the better pass-catchers (Tampa Bay’s Cameron Brate, New Orleans’ Coby Fleener) to each score touchdowns. Zach Miller seems like the target Trubisky could look to early and often.

If you’re looking for a deep sleeper candidate to emerge as Trubisy’s top target, Deonte Thompson might be your guy. Thompson has 11 catches and 125 receiving yards in four games, but caught seven passes from Trubisky during the preseason. The two should have a bit of familiarity after working together during the preseason and in training camp because Thompson didn’t get elevated to starter until Cameron Meredith and Kevin White went to injured reserve. Perhaps their preseason connection is something that can be sparked on Monday night.

Chicago Bears – Defense

Even though defensive coordinator Vic Fangio hinted at Pernell McPhee being a part-time player, McPhee is in line to get an up-tick in snaps after Willie Young’s reported season-ending triceps injury. McPhee has played on just 35.7 percent of the Bears’ defensive snaps, but does have two sacks and a forced fumble to show for his efforts. With Sam Bradford returning to the lineup, the Bears need everything they can get from their edge rushers.

Inside linebacker John Timu has the responsibility of filling in for Danny Trevathan, who is sitting out Monday Night Football with a one-game suspension. Timu is no stranger to the Bears defense, having played in 20 games and made eight starts over the last three years. However, this could be the biggest stage Timu has performed on … and he’ll be the man in the middle tasked with making  play calls and sending out signals from the inside linebacker position. No pressure.

Minnesota Vikings – Offense

We’ve already discussed how the Bears secondary matches up against top receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, so let’s move onto to some other players worth keeping an eye on.

In an attempt to improve their offensive line, the Vikings made a significant investment in left tackle Riley Reiff  – who played in 77 games and made 69 starts during his five years with the Detroit Lions. Minnesota should be pleased with Reiff’s production so far, as he is Pro Football Focus’ 19th best tackle with a 75.4 grade. It would be likely to see Reiff locking up with McPhee, making this a must-see-matchup.

Latavius Murray gained 2,350 scrimmage yards the last two years while playing in the Oakland Raiders’ high-octane offense. Minnesota would appreciate it if Murray can turn back the clock and recapture some of that magic because Dalvin Cook is out for the year with an ACL injury. Murray is averaging just 2.7 yards per carry after averaging 4.2 yards with Oakland. Keep an eye on Murray out of the backfield, where he can be an asset because of his career 76.9 percent catch rate.

Minnesota Vikings – Defense

Xavier Rhodes has been one of the NFL’s best corners in recent years, and has done fine work shadowing an opponent’s top receiver. Of course, it’s worth asking if there is a receiver on the Bears worth shadowing. Rhodes yielded a 47.0 passer rating last year and throwing in his direction would not be highly recommended.

Harrison Smith’s 88.7 rating makes him PFF’s third-highest graded safety. Smith is the site’s top-graded safety when it comes to stopping the run with an elite 91.7 grade, and is no slouch when defending the pass where he ranks 20th among 77 qualifying safeties.

Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.